Somalia UN food agency calls for proper distribution of rice from hijacked

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has called on the Somali authorities to ensure the proper distribution of 850 tonnes of rice on board one of its chartered ships, which was released earlier this week three months after pirates seized it while on its way to feed 28,000 survivors of the Indian Ocean tsunami.“We are urging representatives from both the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Port Authorities to work with WFP to ensure that food aid is properly handled and distributed to the needy in Somalia,” the agency’s Somalia Country Director Robert Hauser said yesterday.The MV Semlow was seized off the Somali coast on 27 June while on its way from Mombasa, Kenya, with a 10-man crew and rice for the northern Puntland region, the first time in WFP history that a ship carrying relief food has been hijacked. It arrived in the port of El Maan yesterday. The ship is expected to complete the unloading of the entire cargo of rice donated by Germany and Japan within the coming days. WFP is requesting its regularly-contracted transporter in El Maan to unload the food and store it in its warehouse until a distribution plan is provided. Somalia has been without a functioning central government and has been riven by factional fighting ever since the collapse of President Muhammad Siad Barre’s regime in 1991. Just last Sunday a UN security official was shot dead by two men in the southern Kismayo region, prompting the relocation of 12 national and one international staff.

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